Here’s an email I recently got:
Your work is really nice. I just discovered Portland Leather Works. I’ve been wanting to learn how to use a whip. For a few years now. I am determined. But.. first I need a beginners whip. I’ve been looking to buy but then I remembered how crafty I am Id like to make one. Money is an issue unfortunately. Do you have any advice I would appreciate it:-)
The thing about making your first whip and that whip being your first whip is that you don’t know what makes a good whip. So you don’t know the how far the weight inside the whip should be carried out into the lash, or how different handle lengths will change how the whip handles. So personally I recommend trying out some whips so you know what the goal is before you try to make one.
Also from the angle of saving money, it’s not economical to make a single whip to save money. Let’s say you are going to make a basic 4 plait bullwhip in cowhide. You’ll need to buy:
- The proper leather in the correct weight $75-$125
- Fall leather $100 or if you are lucky and can find some scrap $5-$10
- Sinew $10-$20
- Misc small tools $10-$25
- Cracker thread $10
So add that up and your first whip will cost about the same as one of my Beginner’s Bullwhips, however your first whip probably won’t crack as well as the one that I make. There’s one reason for that, I’ve made whips before, and have made many of these, so I have my design down.
Oh, I forgot to factor in some sort of instructions. I recommend Ron Edwards book How to Make Whips, that adds a few bucks to the price.
So to sum it up, if you just want one whip, it’s cheaper to buy one that’s been professionally made. If you want to learn to make whips, you’ll spend a lot of money on leather learning before you end up with a super solid whip!